Wayne Bennett

Discussion in 'Brisbane Broncos' started by Big Pete, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. Big Pete

    Big Pete Referee

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    Of everyone involved at the Brisbane Broncos, nobody found themselves in the headlines more than the coach. Bennett's demure attitude towards the media made him a constant target, especially when his relationship went south with Broncos management.

    At the end of 2019, Bennett will have coached his last ever season at the Broncos ending a remarkable 26 years as head coach. As the boys gear up for their final season with Bennett and I thought it'd be worthwhile to reflect on Wayne's second tenure at the club and see what esteem he's held in.
     
  2. Fire

    Fire First Grade

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    I was going for the Broncos in the 2015 Grand Final (a lot of my butt-hurt Saints mates weren't). Strictly reflecting on his second tenure (and that game) I could never understand why he told your boys to put the cue in the rack - it was such a shame to see him go that conservative.

    Anyways, I'm an outsider and have said my piece, and don't want to derail your thread.

    Good luck in 2019.
     
  3. Big Pete

    Big Pete Referee

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    When it comes to Bennett's second tenure, it's important to remember where the club was at before his arrival. It was mid-2014 and the Broncos were barely clinging to a spot inside the 8. At the time, it was actually a decent result for the club as they had completely bungled the Anthony Milford deal and left themselves with no recognised five-eighth for the upcoming season. However, it appeared the Broncos were never in the premiership race and were never going to be under Anthony Griffin.

    So the board made the decision to secure Bennett's services in 2015. The move disappointed a lot of fans in club-land, including some at the Broncos because Bennett said he wouldn't join a club that already had a coach. Some found those comments disingenuous and gave fans the distinct impression that Bennett would put his own interests ahead of the clubs. The relationship grew more tense when he revealed in his first official press conference his desire to sign Russell Packer after Packer had served his sentence. In recent times the Broncos had employed strict guidelines to help improve culture and his criminal history would go a long way to jeopardizing that culture.

    Ultimately the Packer deal didn't work out and Packer went onto become a valuable contributor at Saints and Wests. However that didn't stop Bennett from making changes to the roster. In perhaps the busiest off-season recruitment drive in Broncos history, the Broncos released star signing Ben Barba, reliable backline utility Josh Hoffman and troubled signing Martin Kennedy and brought in Darius Boyd, Adam Blair, James Gavet, Travis Waddell & Joe Boyce.

    Again, this decision split the Broncos fanbase. On one side many felt the changes were necessary to move forward and on the other many felt the replacements were hardly better or unnecessary. Boyd vs. Barba specifically was the most pressing matter and many felt Bennett had completely screwed up when Boyd did his achillies in the 2015 pre-season.

    After all the conjecture and speculation, Brisbane surprised everyone by going within seconds of winning a premiership. While the result was heart-breaking for the club, no one could deny Bennett was an upgrade on previous head coaches and Brisbane were better off with him in the position. Everyone will have their own different interpretation on what he brought to the club and how the Broncos went from making the numbers to genuine competitors. From my point of view, he recognised the base he was working with and what needed fixing. Specifically they needed a fiery forward in the middle, somebody who didn't play in a dinner suit and did those 1%ers like Blair. Brisbane also needed somebody with Darius' professionalism and ability to organise the team in both attack and defence. Furthermore, Bennett was prepared to use the bench more effectively than previous coaches and wasn't afraid to give players like Wallace, Ofahengaue, Nikorima, Dodds etc. time in the middle.

    The future was looking bright at the club, especially after another busy recruitment drive. The Broncos brought in a lot of blue chip prospects like Herman Ese'ese, Tevita Pangai Jr, Jamayne Isaako, Marion Seve, Salesi Funaki, Sam Scarlett among others. These signings were quite exciting for the club, as it demonstrated that Bennett was willing to look towards the future and wasn't going to make the same recruitment decisions that plagued Hook's tenure as coach. The only sore point (or points) for fans was the loss of Ash Taylor, Jayden Nikorima and Matt Parcell. The reasoning was sound, when Bennett released Taylor Milford/Hunt were playing sensational football but many felt Taylor had too much talent to be released prematurely. Furthermore, while Taylor wasn't as instinctive as others, he was already a more skillful player with a better kicking game than both players. Given Bennett's desire to play 'boring' football, Taylor seemed like the better long term option.

    Regardless, whatever anxiety was felt over the Taylor situation quickly evaporated after the Broncos signed James Roberts. Jimmy the Jet had an off-field reputation, but there was no denying his speed and his presence on the field gave the Broncos two strong attacking options on both sides of the field.

    Unfortunately by the Origin period, the honeymoon was over. Unlike last year where the Broncos were able to survive without their Origin players, in 2016 they completely dropped their bundle and at one point appeared set to miss the finals altogether. Again, there's many theories about what happened, but from my perspective, the Broncos found out about the old addage 'if you're not moving forwards, you're going backwards.' Bennett's decision to bring in new faces like James Roberts, Tevita Pangai Jr, Herman Ese'ese and Jai Arrow was smart but his inability to evolve Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt's game had a flow on effect. As opposition defences became more familiar with Milford and Hunt's game, the Broncos potency diminished and the club struggled to overcome it.

    In the end, the Broncos finished the season strongly with good wins over Canterbury and Melbourne but their 5th place finish proved their demise. Once again they found themselves against the Cowboys in extra time, except this time the Cowboys had the benefit of playing inside a stadium with 20,000+ fans cheering them on. A dire situation indeed and one I would have been keen to see Cronulla or Melbourne come up against just to see how they would have handled it. Certainly the Cowboys side the Sharks faced a week later was different to the one the Broncos faced.

    Never the less, 2016 turned out to be a real disappointment for the club, but an understandable one. Despite going so close the year before, the reality was the Broncos were still a young side and there was a transition taking place between the remnants of the 2006 squad to the current day one. There was still plenty of optimism surrounding 2017, albeit not as much as 2016. After the strong recruitment drive in 2016, the 2017 drive felt meager by comparison with only Korbin Sims, Benji Marshall, David Mead & Tautau Moga joining the club. Certainly not a bad list, but there wasn't a lot of upside there either. In fact I would contend that Tautau Moga proved the most valuable since he filled the troublesome left centre position and gave the Broncos reliable metres inside their own half.

    However, that list couldn't make up for the signing of Ben Hunt who announced before the season 2017 would be his last at the club. Maybe this is a topic for another thread, but I really dislike a system that allows players to sign on with a club that far advanced before a ball has even been kicked. I would have thought the Anthony Milford debacle would have seen an end to that trade window since it effectively ruined two club's seasons but that's just the lay of the land.

    Point being, Hunt's decision to depart the club was a significant blow because it meant that the Broncos couldn't afford to commit to the Milford/Hunt halves combination which was always going to be the key to potential premiership glory. This anxiety manifested itself when Hunt returned from injury, had two mediocre games in trying conditions against the Warriors and the Roosters and was dumped to reserve grade and the bench.

    2017 wasn't a bad season, but the Broncos never seemed to be in the hunt. Whether it was injuries, player movements, a tougher draw the Broncos couldn't generate enough momentum to be a genuine contender. They did well to finish inside the Top 4, but it was at this point, some serious questions were being asked of Bennett.

    As 2018 pre-season commenced, the Broncos had lost Ben Hunt, Tautau Moga, Jai Arrow, Herman Ese'ese, Benji Marshall & David Mead. To make matters worse Darius Boyd, Anthony Milford, Kodi Nikorima and Andrew McCullough spent the majority of the pre-season rehabbing injuries and star-signing Jack Bird came to the club in worst shape than they had anticipated. It seemed like the pre-season from hell and given every year two former top eight teams drop out of finals contention the following year, the Broncos seemed to be ideal candidates.
     
  4. Big Pete

    Big Pete Referee

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    This fear was realised when the Broncos were rolled by St. George in the opening round of the competition. The Broncos appeared far more brittle in defence than they had in previous seasons and were guilty of turning over more possession. Perhaps more concerning was the form of senior players like Darius Boyd, Sam Thaiday & Matt Gillett who looked well off the pace. It would later emerge that Matt Gillett had broken his neck during the course of the game and after trying to play valiantly with the injury, ended up missing most of the season.

    It was interesting how the initial fears of Bennett's arrival had come full circle. Darius was struggling at fullback and Wayne seemed resistant to change it. The Broncos didn't have a halfback because Hunt didn't work out and the replacements that were brought through all left for better opportunities. Bennett would compromise the culture of the club and bring in a criminal like Matt Lodge simply to save a few bucks. On top of that, the Broncos would play a predictible brand of football that doesn't compliment the sides strengths and ultimately limits their potential. These were all valid concerns through out the year and the Broncos at times appeared to be on track to have a similar fall from grace as North Queensland, Parramatta and Manly all suffered.

    However, the players kept turning up for them. Whenever the Broncos finals ambitions were in jeopardy, it didn't matter the opponent the club would turn up and find away. The young talent Bennett had put so much faith behind started making inroads and players like Jamayne Isaako, Matt Lodge, Tevita Pangai Jr, Joe Ofahengaue, Jaydn Su'A, Kotoni Staggs, David Fifita etc. were stand-out performers. 2018 easily proved to be the Broncos worst season, but it may have been one of the most valuable moving forward. The young players finally came of age and their impact wasn't just felt in the NRL. In the Intrust Super Cup and in the Junior Representative scene, the best and brightest players were Broncos and there's little doubt they will figure into the NRL.

    That takes us to now where Brisbane are among the most favoured to win the competition. Whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen, but certainly for the time being, the Broncos are in better shape than they were before Bennett arrived.

    EDIT: Broke the character limit.
     
  5. Big Pete

    Big Pete Referee

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    Not at all, thanks and you too.

    Besides, my intention wasn't to limit this conversation to Broncos fans. I wanted to open this conversation up to everyone and get everyone's perspective and take. Bennett is clearly a topic of interest, so instead of derailing threads I decided to make this thread. To be honest I was surprised a similar topic didn't already exist.
     
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  6. Fire

    Fire First Grade

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    Agreed, thanks Big Pete :)
     
  7. TheFrog

    TheFrog Coach

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    They were in the premiership race once in four attempts under Griffin. They were in the premiership race once in four attempts under Bennett since 2015.
     
  8. Big Pete

    Big Pete Referee

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    2011 has an asterix attached since Griffin didn't take over until the pre-season was practically over. Once he had cart blanche and didn't have Lockyer to inspire the boys, the Broncos struggled under his coaching.

    The signs were there in 2011 that Griffin wasn't going to make it as a head coach. A shame because I was a huge proponent of his and his work at Redcliffe and Under 20s was tremendous.
     
  9. Pilot house

    Pilot house Juniors

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    Bennett is awesome, you guys are mad.

    And I hate Brisbane with all my heart too.
     
  10. Bronco18

    Bronco18 Juniors

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    If this has been our weakest year under Bennett’s tenure, that’s not too bad as the young talent and systems he’s put in place seems to have the team on an upwards trajectory. Keep in mind that we were without a fit and firing Gillette (I can’t see Tariq Sims giving Nikorima the touch up he did if Gillette was there defending with him) and Bird.

    While I think his time is probably drawing to an end as a head coach, I’d rather we didn’t replace Bennett unless there was a blue chip replacement available.

    Walters seemed to be the obvious succession plan a while back, but now he seems on the outer. I had a theory that Bennett had only sacked him because he likes to keep himself as the dictator of the club - he’s done it with quality assistant coaches before and will probably keep doing it as long as he coaches.

    It’s for that reason I think the only way to get rid of Bennett is a clean break - I used to entertain the idea of Bennett on a boardroom or GM role but he’d micromanage like Gould. It’s probably the kind of thing that made him great as a coach but would make him impossible to work under.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
  11. Bronco18

    Bronco18 Juniors

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    Curious for your thoughts @Big Pete on the Jack Bird signing.

    I thought a waste of money at the time, but other signing like Boyd and Marshall I had been skeptical on proved to be valuable additions.

    Obviously he was a lemon in hindsight but I wondered how they hoped to get ~800k a years worth out of him playing centre? Smells like desperation on Bennett’s part looking for a big money recruit.

    At the time I thought there was potential for him to bulk up and play a Wade Graham role on the edge, but with the emergence of Sua and Fifita any move to the forwards looks out of the question.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
  12. Big Pete

    Big Pete Referee

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    Bird was a bold signing that left a lot to be desired in 2018. At Cronulla, Bird was known for his competitive play and his desire to get his hands on the football. Bird came to the Broncos for the opportunity to play a starring role, but rarely had the opportunity given the limited pre-season. Whatever plans Bennett had for Bird had to be thrown out the window, and the Broncos never got to see the vision realised. The only glimpse we saw of Bird's capability was in that unlikely Round 6 victory against the Warriors.

    Suffice to say, I'm not going to judge Bird until this season. With a proper pre-season under his belt, there won't be any excuses left and I get the impression he won't need any.

    There's certainly a feeling that he'll play the 7 role for the Broncos next season, with Kodi shifting to the bench and either Boyd, Shibasaki or Staggs playing left centre. Bird will play the bulk of the season in that position before transitioning to the 13 role where he'll play a similar role as Victor Radley, with either O'Sullivan or one of the young halves (Dearden, Paix or T. Boyd) filling in at halfback. There's rumours circulating that Dearden has secured a Top 30 NRL contract spot, so I wouldn't be surprised if he plays NRL sooner rather than later. If he does, he'd be following in the foot-steps of Haas and Fifita, two former Keebra Park boys who have turned heads with their performances in the NRL.
     
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  13. blaza88z

    blaza88z Coach

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    I know you're a retard but you can't be so stupid to overlook the fact that the one year Griffin had us in a spot to be a threat was off the back of us having one of the all time great 5/8's in our team

    We were not the same there after, until Bennett took control
     
  14. blaza88z

    blaza88z Coach

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    I don't see Bird as a lemon signing, obviously on the surface.. sure, but if you look at the circumstances, we never got to see a fully fit Jack Bird, I imagine it will be a much different story next year
     
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  15. TheFrog

    TheFrog Coach

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    OK genius, if Bennett is the greatest thing since slice bread, why are your Drongos showing him the door?

    Oh and by the way, every Drongos coach since 1995 had Lockyer, including your pinup boy.
     
  16. blaza88z

    blaza88z Coach

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    He is 69 years old next year, he can't coach forever and instead of waiting until he pulls the pin on us (like we did last time) and leave us in a bad position to find a coach, the club is being proactive about it and as it turns out there are some really good quality coaches available, also we will be in a significantly stronger position regarding our playing roster than we were when he came to the club, even if a couple of players follow him to where ever he decides to go.

    We won't end up with an Ivan Henjak this time around.

    If Bennett was interested in coaching Penrith you'd take him no questions asked and you know it, one of the greatest coaches of all time.
     
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  17. gUt

    gUt Coach

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  18. THE CHAMP

    THE CHAMP First Grade

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    He has provided me with a huge amount of joy. An incredible run of finals appearances. I wish him all the best. Can he piss off now though? Is he short of a dollar or something? Starting to look like a massive hypocrite.
     
  19. Clem Gould

    Clem Gould Juniors

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    He is certainly providing mega joy bubbles for the rest of the comp except crows nest citizens. More Wayne please .The champ of standup - Ivan and Barrett must be paul with envy
     
  20. THE CHAMP

    THE CHAMP First Grade

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    He should read a couple of his own books ffs. The older he gets the more petulant he becomes
     
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